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Post The World According to Trump: Bernard-Henri Levy
Created by John Eipper on 03/14/16 12:18 PM

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The World According to Trump: Bernard-Henri Levy (Henry Levin, USA, 03/14/16 12:18 pm)

JE:  Henry Levin forwarded this essay from Bernard-Henri Lévy, "The World According to Trump."  I don't usually post "FYI" forwards of previously published material, but Lévy's essay has an original thesis:  that the Trump Phenomenon is the US version of a wider "International of Bling and Vulgarity" first articulated by Berlusconi in Italy, and later perfected by Vladimir Putin.  The Le Pens are doing the same in France.

WAISer thoughts?  One thing's for certain:  attacks from a French public intellectual won't put a dent in Trump's support.  Quite the opposite.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/the-world-according-to-donald-trump-by-bernard-henri-levy-2016-03?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=014d0b6c41-Levy_World_According_Trump_3_13_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-014d0b6c41-93525249


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  • Trump, Berlusconi, Putin (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 03/15/16 3:54 AM)

    Trump has been compared to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Berlusconi, and now (see the Bernard-Henri Lévy essay forwarded by Henry Levin), to Putin.



    With the possible exception of Berlusconi, none of these comparisons are apt, in my opinion.



    Hitler had a fiendish vision of revenge, conquest, and exploitation or liquidation of inferior races. No one could ever have the slightest doubt about why he wanted power. It's all in his book. He started from zero and conquered most of Europe in the name of this evil vision.



    Mussolini was a vainglorious peacock, full of the aesthetic idea of himself, full of his own speeches and gestures, but like Hitler, he was actually a man of action with a coherent program. Mussolini was a demagogue, but he was a demagogue with a capital "D"--there was an equal part of just plain leadership, mixed with the demagoguery, which was used to push people into action in furtherance of his program.



    Putin is not of the historical stature of either of the foregoing, and unlike them, is really no kind of demagogue at all. His speeches tend towards the technocratic. He appeals to people's patriotism, but in ways which would seem mostly moderate to Western ears. He strikes a pose from time to time, flying fighter jets or hunting with his shirt off, but these are nothing but poses. He does not shout and does not use much hyperbole. He is deeply corrupt and has created an oppressive system, but not through demagoguery--rather, through politics, organization, and administration, brick by brick. A totally different character from Trump in almost every way.



    Trump is, in this company, a midget--or a circus clown. His analogue in Russian politics is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, not Vladimir Putin. Trump is a demagogue of a totally different type from Mussolini--in furtherance of no particular program, Trump pokes and prods and arouses the ugliest sentiments of the most brutal elements of society. The energy of these elements, in response to Trump, comes from having the opportunity, from being encouraged to say, previously unsayable things--barbarism unbound. This is the mood and the dynamic of reality TV, translated into politics.



    And why does Trump even want to be president? His platform is a mishmash of contradictory nonsense, formulated primarily for demagogic effect, and not as an actual program of any kind. What will he actually do, if he attains the office? My guess is that what Trump aspires to, is something like the presidency as reality TV. God help us.



    The only good thing, which I can think of, which has come out of this is the revival of William F. Buckley's old right-wing journal, the National Review, which is carrying out an intellectual crusade against Trump. It's the best writing in NR I've read in decades. I guess having an enemy really focuses the mind.


    JE comments:  With Trump, "reality" TV has come full circle--politics is now scripted with  shocking quips and pre-packaged conflicts, in an attempt to mimic the genre.  But does Trump have "no program of any kind"?  What about his protectionist nativism?  Or nativist protectionism?  Another Trumpian twist is his rejection of the pet issues of the traditional social conservatives.


    Meanwhile, strong showings in today's primaries (Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina), could all but lock up the Republican nomination for The Donald.


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    • Trump, Berlusconi, Putin (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/16/16 12:42 PM)
      I enjoyed reading and agreeing with most of Cameron Sawyer's take on Trump. For a change, I seem to have a more optimistic view of Trump than most WAISers. To me Trump and Bernie Sanders represent the only chance for a break from the corruption and negative trends which have brought my beloved USA to the disgusting situation we are in today.

      Regarding Trump versus Hillary Clinton and Rubio, I probably choose Trump, hoping he is much smarter than most people think. He is a successful businessman. He has played the disaffected Republican voters like a fiddle. I just hope he is not playing me as one. After he runs over Rubio and Kasich for the nomination, and perhaps is forced to make a deal with Cruz, he will change his tune and will give Hillary a run for her money.


      I believe if Rubio loses in Florida his political career is over. If he wins, Trump will have to run him over later by delegate count. A similar fate waits for Kasich in Ohio. Cruz will give Trump a good challenge all the way to the end.


      My heart and mind belongs to Bernie from the beginning. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party establishment is as corrupt as the Republican Party establishment that Trump has made monkeys of, but seems more powerful than Bernie's capability to set it on fire.


      John Eipper commented: "One common thread of Trump and Sanders is the rejection of free trade. Trump talks of slapping a 35% tariff on imported goods." I completely disagree. Neither candidate is against free trade. Both dislike trade or trade treaties written by large corporate interests to the detriment of the American nation. Free trade is good; trading American jobs for cheap goods unfairly manufactured is bad. Free trade is good, unfair trade due to currency manipulation and other devices has been bad for the American nation.


      JE comments: I don't see how the Trump tariff is anything but anti-free trade.


      Between the arrival of this post from Tor Guimaraes and its publication, Marco Rubio has dropped out of the race after failing to win in Florida.  (Kasich did win his home state--Ohio--so he'll live to fight another day.)


      My guess is that Rubio is in talks right now with Mr Trump about a VP nod.

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      • Trump and Sanders in California (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 03/17/16 3:42 AM)
        In liberal California, there is a hidden undercurrent of Bernie and Trump supporters. Here is one reason: Despite our decently performing state economy, the wealth and class gap differences are widening. The number of homeless and déclassé visible on our streets has increased under Obama.

        Moreover, a conflict exists between the young and successful techies and managerial groups on the one hand and middle and lower-class people who labor in the service industry. Many of the latter are being forced out to the street due to rising property values and increasing rents.


        A recently proposed solution is to build 440 square-ft mini-apartments in San Francisco and adjacent cities. Meanwhile, for instance, Facebook's Zuckerberg buys up his adjacent neighbors' land in Palo Alto to get more privacy. Other towns like Menlo Park continue to turn hitherto quiet residential areas into mixed neighborhoods full of rental units. This renters vs owners issue is a not-so-hidden reflection of the extant income gap and quality of life issues in the Golden State, which joined to immigration and foreign trade, help explain the fissures that the government and media refuse to address in depth.


        The fall campaign will provide explode them into clear view and national consciousness.


        JE comments:  With California's primary being held at the late, late date of June 7th, the nominations will probably already be wrapped up.  Bernie's responses to the income gap follow the old-school Social Democratic model.  But what has Trump said about leveling the playing field, other than cracking down on immigration?


        Note to Californians:  move to Michigan!  It's cheap to live here, and this year, the winter wasn't bad at all.

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        • Cost of Living in California; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 03/18/16 5:30 AM)
          Ric Mauricio responds to Francisco Wong-Díaz (17 March):


          Francisco, I hope you are not endorsing an income equality platform. Such a system would be an economic disaster. Did we not learn from the examples of Mao and the Cold War USSR?


          Here on the Peninsula, apartments are being built to handle the housing shortage created by the expansion of the high tech and biotech sectors. Apartments in my neighborhood are priced in the $4k to $6k/month range. Perhaps we may be wishing for the post-dot com bubble crash to bring down the property values and rents.


          While, yes, I agree, there is some displacement, my clientele does include all socio-economic classes. However, I am finding that my clients in the lower economic strata are not homeless. Somehow, by hook or by crook, they stay off the streets.


          The Republican venture capitalist community here in Silicon Valley is anti-Trump. Think of it, if your biggest holding is Apple, and that product is manufactured overseas, and a 35% tariff is placed on products made overseas, what do you think that will do to the sales of Apple products and Apple stock?  Many of us are of the opinion that Donald Trump does not understand economics. He understands real estate and using other people's money and making deals, but he does not understand global economics.


          Now, with the loss of his Atlantic City properties through his fifth bankruptcy, there are still people who believe he is a great businessman. Trump caused a Wall Street analyst to lose his career because that analyst dared to put out a negative report on Trump's Atlantic City operations. Although now that analyst's work has been vindicated, his career was destroyed, much like Lance Armstrong destroyed his critics.


          Wall Street hates Trump. The bankers, after being lampooned five times by Trump, hate Trump. Someone once calculated that if Trump had invested the money that his dad had "loaned" him in the S&P 500, he would have twice as much as the Forbes guestimate of Trump's net worth of $4 billion.


          Francisco, you mentioned that "immigration and foreign trade help explain the fissures that the government and media refuse to address in depth." Immigration and foreign trade have helped our Silicon Valley economy, although the ensuing income gap is exacerbated by the profit largesse.  What would you rather have?


          John, regarding my retirement at 30, at 16, I discovered a financial rule. If your income from investments exceeds your living expenses, you can retire (keep in mind, your return should have a built in 3% surplus return to account for inflation). So if you build up your investments (I utilized both stocks and real estate) and reduce your expenses, you can make the numbers work. However, it does take some sacrifices and hard work, and lots of study. Not only did I study the investment markets, I studied how to fix things (although I am deathly afraid of electricity and will hire a electrician) and manage properties. I also found a partner who shared my vision: my wife. She and I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We did not spend our money on expensive cars or frivolous material items. We did enjoy ourselves, treating ourselves to vacations, but other than that, we focused. We utilized prudent leverage, so that when the S&L crises hit, we not only sailed smoothly through it, but were able to take advantage of the crises.


          JE comments:  One thing I can say with confidence:  Francisco Wong-Díaz was not endorsing any income-leveling agenda.  He was rather trying to explain the popularity of political "outsiders" Trump and Sanders in California.


          (I just Googled the neologism "Trumponomics," and found 30,200 hits.  Now it will be 30,201.)



          Just how do working-class Californians perform the economic alchemy of paying $4K per month in rent?


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          • Income Inequality (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/19/16 8:57 AM)
            I proudly admit to have always been an unshakable capitalist pig. However, contrary to my friend Ric Mauricio's opinion, who said on 18 March that "endorsing an income equality platform... would be an economic disaster," I strongly believe such a platform is absolutely essential for the US not to continue its march toward becoming a giant "banana republic."

            America's now chronic and continuously increasing income inequality is destroying our democracy and sense of justice (wealthy people buy elections, make all the rules, get away with murder, etc.). This inequality has created great frustration among the American people, including the rebellions represented by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.


            It makes absolutely no sense to allow "too big to fail or jail" to get bigger, financial criminals to go free, hard-working people to live on starvation wages, to provide generous welfare for the wealthy via lower taxes and subsidies, etc., while our nation's infrastructure is allowed to decay shamelessly beyond repair. We must have at least a flat tax with no loopholes on everyone earning above $40,000. We should preferably have a progressive income tax as we had when America was truly an exceptional nation.


            The important lessons to be learned from the failed Communist experiences with Mao and the USSR are the same that we should learn from now uncontrolled global Capitalism: we must have free markets; democracy or respect for people's opinions without gerrymandering, vote suppression, or bought elections; we must respect science, not manipulative BS; and we must have justice for all via the rule of law. Above all we must not encourage the further development of a corrupt elite born from its manipulation of our Capitalist system.


            Unfortunately, except for a few Socialist nations with democratic governments like Switzerland and Scandinavian countries, the whole Capitalist world is deteriorating into corrupt Oligarchies just as destructive as what the Communist nations have experienced.


            JE comments: One freewheeling capitalist nation on the verge of collapse appears to be Brazil.  This week has seen street protests of historic proportions, at least in São Paulo.  The wide-reaching Petrobras scandal could force President Dilma Rousseff out of office.  Could Tor Guimaraes send a comment on his native country's present situation?

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            • How Do You Measure Income Inequality? (Timothy Brown, USA 03/20/16 4:12 AM)
              In response to Tor Guimaraes (19 March), I'm fascinated by the idea that somehow, somewhere, some people can define for me equality and tell me how it can be measured.

              Does equality mean we should precisely divide each and every dollar so that no one single person has a single penny more than any other person, or so that each family has precisely the same income to the penny as every other family?


              Or, does it mean that no single person or family have any more money? Property? Debt? Savings? Food to eat? Size of house? Number of cars? Length of vacations?


              And how do you define equality of happiness? Sorrow? Love? (Let's forget hate.)


              As a slogan, equality is a great dream. I'd just like to know what it means and how one should measure or quantify it.


              It's rather like the PC version of the term "equality."  Can equality of education be measured exclusively by equality of outcome? How about quality of life? (Whatever in the world that means.) Or perhaps by equality of opportunity? If so, how do we define and measure this? Can we measure equality of opportunity be measuring precise equality of outcome? Must all humans get college educations and straight As and BAs from equally elite universities? (Oops, elite is, by definition a sign of inequality.) What about BSs? MAs? PhDs?


              I can only see one way this can every possibly be done. Replace humans with robots, each of them programmed to do precisely the same thing. But then, if the robots do everything, the world wouldn't need humans and once we're all gone, or perhaps enslaved, who will give a damn about equality?


              JE comments:  Even the robots would be unequal--the fancier and more expensive ones would lord it over the Walmart "rollback" specials!


              Tim Brown's point is well taken.  Many would respond that there is a vast gulf between total equality and the egregious inequality of today.


              On elitism, Francisco Wong-Díaz (next) has sent his thoughts.


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              • Income Inequality Revisited (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/22/16 5:04 AM)

                Timothy Brown (20 March) expressed his fascination with "the idea that somehow, somewhere, some people can define for me equality and tell me how it can be measured."


                Fair enough.


                Even though the terms equality, freedom, etc., are commonly used in general, it should be obvious that in reality such terms are strictly relative to specific conditions and thus only definable and possibly measured in specific situations. How do we know for sure when we have social, political equality? Through the US Constitution, our Founding Fathers to a major extent have answered Timothy's fascinating question. Our nation's experience allowed the American people to improve the answer. Here are some examples of items useful in defining and measuring social political equality:


                --One vote per person, regardless of sex preference, religion, etc.



                --Wealthy individuals should not use their wealth or power to control or manipulate the local, county, state, or national government electoral, legislative, or judiciary processes.



                --Ditto for business organizations constituted in any form such as partnerships, corporations, cartels, etc. Needless to say, Citizens United should be seen as a crime against democracy and social, political equality.



                --Vote suppression or manipulation in any form such as gerrymandering, payment of voting fees, logistical impediments, obviously unnecessary requirements for voter identification/validation, etc., should be illegal.



                Regarding economic and financial equality which is more directly linked to individual living conditions, our nation has always recognized its importance. There were good reasons why Theodore Roosevelt busted the "robber barons." Also there were good reasons why FDR introduced the New Deal. Also clearly economic and financial equality is heavily dependent on circumstances, and its definition and measurement must take into consideration several practical factors such as:



                --Different people are willing and/or able to contribute to society in different ways and to different degrees. They should be rewarded accordingly.  Thus rewards will be distributed unequally to match individual contribution to society.



                --Suitable to a democratic way of government (essential for social political equality), free markets should be used to decide the rewards for individual performance. This reward distribution process can be an easy target for manipulation by totalitarian governments, oligarchies, and politically powerful special interests in general.



                --When there is clear evidence that the "free" market is being manipulated (i.e. wealthy investors with huge capital gains pay lower income tax rates than others, CEO earn multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses while their companies suffer and workers starve, etc.), a democratic decision process must be used to override prior reward rules and regulations and decide on a more equitable reward (income) distribution process.



                --No one should be rewarded with starvation wages while working full time on a legitimate job. This unjust condition should be a clear indication that the labor market has already been manipulated.



                --Workers should always be free to organize for labor negotiations.


                As I said earlier, America's now chronic and continuously increasing income inequality is destroying our democracy and sense of justice (wealthy people buy elections, make all the rules, get away with murder, etc.). This obscene inequality is fast enlarging the poverty-stricken segment of our once glorious society. In practical terms, it makes absolutely no sense to allow "too big to fail or jail" to get bigger, financial criminals to go free, hard-working people to live on starvation wages, or to provide generous welfare for the wealthy via lower taxes and subsidies, while our nation's physical infrastructure and education system are allowed to decay shamelessly beyond repair.


                JE comments:  We could sum it up thus:  "A square deal for every man....do not let him wrong anyone, and do not let him be wronged." 


                Teddy Roosevelt should have included women, too.


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      • Trump and Tariffs, Possible VP Selection (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/17/16 1:07 PM)
        Bernie Sanders's candidacy seems to be stalling, much to my disappointment. The chances of my vote for Hillary is as high as my vote for Cruz.

        Kasich did get a reprieve through Ohio, and depending on his performance in coming primaries, he may become a viable candidate. He made a very grown-up and inspiring victory speech.


        John Eipper commented on my last post with, "I don't see how the Trump tariff is anything but anti-free trade." If anyone slaps a 35% tariff on any imported product the effect is obviously anti-trade. However, as I mentioned earlier, I believe Trump is much smarter than most people think. He is a successful businessman and a master crowd manipulator, who cleverly tapped into the large pool of angry voters.


        Trump knows the results from a tariff war, but any threats against perceived "enemies" is what his angry supporters want. They want to vent their frustrations, not an informed debate about how to get things done. If elected he might not change his tune, but his tough talk will be just a starting point for more serious negotiations about any issues. Right or wrong, that is how I interpret his verbal bombshells.


        I will be surprised if Trump takes a big loser like Rubio as his VP. The only reason would be to get the blessings from the Republican establishment that he does not seem to need. The opportunity cost is too great and the benefits too small. He should wait to pick someone (a Mexican, or African American woman) who can help him fight against Hillary. Perhaps the present governor of South Carolina.


        JE comments: SC governor Nikki Haley fits the women and diversity niche for Trump, but the risk for her is huge.  Joining Team Trump would alienate the Republican Establishment, and losing the election would spell the end of her national aspirations.


        If I were The Donald, I'd go with Rubio, loser or not, with the hope of putting Florida in the "W" column.


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        • Republicans' VP Selection? (Michael Sullivan, USA 03/18/16 11:03 AM)
          An ideal candidate for VP on the Republican ticket would be Susana Martinez of New Mexico. She is a rising star in the Republican ranks and is currently Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. A woman and a Hispanic makes her a "twofer," both direly needed by the GOP.

          JE comments: Ah yes, but who is going to be the Republican Presidential nominee?  Any politician who joins Trump is putting her/his career on the line.  It's either victory in November or...political obscurity.

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          • Republican Party in Crisis? (Michael Sullivan, USA 03/19/16 11:25 AM)
            When commenting my post of 18 March, JE talked about political obscurity. It's the Republican Party that will fade into being a non-entity after the election even if Trump should win!

            A new Third Party is definitely in the making, as disgruntled voters have finally had it with the elitist Democratic and Republican Party gurus!


            JE comments: I think it's premature to speak of the demise of the two-party system in America, but Michael Sullivan is correct about voter dissatisfaction.  Is anti-elitism the common thread of both Trumpism and Sandersism?  (Yes:  call it Populism.)

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            • Elitism (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 03/20/16 5:00 AM)
              I would not just call the Trump and Sanders phenomenon antielitism.

              There are many overachievers (like WAISers in general) who fall within one or more of the categories of "elites." We have in this fellowship, for instance, members of elite organizations like the CFR, Pacific Council, Atlantic Council, Aspen Institute, etc., that double as think tanks, too. They are selective in membership and costly. They also operate through interlocking directorates by which their leaders' views and preferences prevail. The "average citizen" might not even know these selective membership groups exist, yet they are very influential and protective of each other.


              Then there are the so-called "hidden hands" elites like the Masons, Tricontinental, Bildebergers, etc. When they are discussed one falls into the "secret societies" topic that is usually denigrated by academics as not serious.


              The average citizen voting for Bernie or Trump in the USA now directs his/her frustrations against the most visible members of these "elites," whether government leaders, politicians, media talking heads, etc., for their insincerity and hypocrisy which reveals itself post facto as incompetence or disdain.


              Yet Bernie as a US Senator and Trump as an Ivy League educated billionaire by definition are elite members, too. Arguably a true populist, Latin American style like Brazil's Lula, would have risen from a different level of society. As we know from the Cuban experience, elitist far left authoritarians like Castro and right-wing military elite authoritarians like Argentina's Perón, rose to power by brandishing the populist banner. In the end, under their rule the hopeful population ended up less free and less economically secure, more bitter and disappointed as their hopes once more were betrayed.


              JE comments:  The oxymoronic "elitist populist" may even be the rule in the US.  Look no further than the two Roosevelts and Kennedy.


              Secret societies are endlessly intriguing, because they go hand-in-hand with paranoia theories and the belief that somebody is pulling the strings in this chaotic world--just not us.  The Masons are a ubiquitous if mysterious presence everywhere.  But what about the Bildenbergers and the Tricontinentals?  I know nothing, but if I did I wouldn't tell...

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              • Trilateral Commission (David Duggan, USA 03/21/16 4:48 AM)
                I believe the elite hidden hand mentioned by Francisco Wong-Díaz (20 March) is called the Trilateral Commission, founded by David Rockefeller in 1973, and essentially consisting of the internationalists from Western Europe, the United States and Japan.

                JE comments: Prof. Hilton was fascinated by these secret or semi-secret societies, especially the Masons. Who among the WAISitudes can tell us more about the Trilaterals? They haven't invited me to join yet.  (Insert an "LOL" here.)

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            • Trump and Trumpism (Randy Black, USA 03/20/16 7:01 AM)
              I've watched patiently (for me) over the past few months as WAISers of various viewpoints ridiculed, took cheap shots at, insulted, and mentioned the name Donald Trump in the same post with the names Hitler and Mussolini and worse.

              One NY Times columnist Tweeted, "The only way to end the Trump campaign is assassination." How quaint. If the same journalist (Ross Douthat, Feb. 25) had written such a sentence during Obama's campaign, you can only speculate if the writer would ever work in print journalism again.


              Early on, I did not like Trump. I still don't "feel the love," but he's certainly more interesting than Jeb, Ted, and Marco along with the rest of the liars and hypocrites. Excuse me: I meant the other politicians. As I've watched Trump gain a foothold in the electorate and his support become a potential landslide, I've starting to understand his bandwagon and why tens of millions are flocking to him.


              From the right and left, here and abroad, more than a few among us have attacked him for his views, his methods, his lack of people skills, his richness, his treatment of this or that minority, sex and all the rest. Heck, the man funds his own campaign while the other professional politicians wallow at the pig trough and swill our tax dollars.


              As I watched the numbers on both sides during the primaries, I noted that his voting numbers approached a level that is double those supporting Hillary and Bernie. Think about that for a moment. Mr. Trump is getting support from those who have never voted before, from Democrats, from support groups that have traditionally supported Democrats, mainstream Republicans and even immigrants.


              About the only support he's not getting is MoveOn.org. But, while MoveOn creates their riots, protests and related crimes, Mr. Trump does not have to waste money on TV commercials and billboards or direct mail. Free advertising courtesy of his opponents: It's a brilliant tactic.


              More than a few WAISers have attacked his "build the wall" position, never mentioning that fact that hundreds of miles of walls already exist from California to Texas and have been expanding for years under several presidents. It's not even news, this wall-building.


              When he said that many of the millions of persons who snuck into the USA are rapists, murderers and other criminals, Donald Trump spoke the truth, yet he was attacked by the media and those running against him.


              Between 2008 and 2014, 40% of all murder convictions in Florida were criminal aliens. In New York it was 34% and Arizona 17.8%.


              During those years, criminal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York, while illegal aliens constitute only 5.6% of the total population in those states. That 38% represents 7,085 murders out of the total of 18,643.**



              One by one, his political opponents have dropped by the wayside. Yet he spoke the truth. And, by the way, in an interview in the Texas Senate 2012 debates, Senator Cruz stated (that) he wanted the entire Texas border walled off--even if it meant invoking one of Trump's favorite federal powers, eminent domain, to do it. The Department of Homeland Security estimated the cost at $7.3 billion (Dallas Morning News, WFAA (ABC Dallas, reporter Brad Watson).


              Over the past couple of decades, the Republican Party (my party) has painted itself as the party for conservative change. Yet, little has gotten done. The Republican Party has enlarged its base and political position by leaps and bounds as the liberal Democratic Party has limped along, losing influence and seats in State and Federal congresses.


              Never in my memory have I seen the two major political parties bond together and spent what is approaching $100 million in anti-Trump ads. Clearly, Mr. Trump has clearly set off a panic by the good old boy networks of both parties.


              We are being bombarded by anti-Trump ads that paint Mr. Trump as dangerous to the USA, to various minorities and to our enemies and allies. I heard one critic attack him last night because he's been married three times. As if that matters. It didn't bother Bill Clinton's supporters that he had had sex with an intern in the Oval Office and was impeached. It does not bother Obama's supporters that the President has violated the Constitution per the many court rulings that have overturned some of his Executive Orders, or that he has ignored the felonies that his Secretary of State has committed while Hillary was in office. This from former DOJ and FBI officials and various courts. Two divorces and three marriages? Yawn. Will she be charged? Will the DOJ ignore the felony charges to come? Stay tuned.


              I'll finish with the thoughts that he's saying what many, many politicians wish they could say publicly but know they'd get roasted by their opponents who are also thinking but dare not. For decades, Europeans criticized the US when we began building walls along our southern border. Now, there are walls going up along the borders of a half dozen European nations and the politicians who encourage the European open borders policy are in danger of being run out of office. Hypocrites.


              ** Sources: Government Accountability Office (GAO) using Department of Justice data on criminal aliens in the nation's correctional system. The numbers were the basis for a presentation at a recent New Hampshire conference sponsored by the highly respected Center for Security Policy. Also: US Census Bureau, hotair.com.


              JE comments: Glad to have Randy Black back!  Randy has given the closest thing to a Trump endorsement we've yet seen on the pages of WAIS.  Or at least it's not a non-endorsement.


              Somehow Trump has succeeded in branding himself as not a non-hypocrite.  Is this primarily because he's not a politician, or because of the harshness of his discourse--the "straight talker" phenomenon?

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            • Will a Third Party Emerge in the US? (Michael Sullivan, USA 03/21/16 3:51 AM)

              To follow up on my post of March 19th, I didn't predict the demise of the two-party system. I predicted the end of the Republican Party's effectiveness and it will fade away, lose its voter support and be superseded soon after the election by a Third Party made up of displeased voters from all political persuasions--including me!


              JE comments:  The last time a "third" party took hold in the United States, it was the Republicans, over 150 years ago.  The existing parties have adapted well to change; look no further than the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, or the Democrats' embrace of Civil Rights in the 1960s.


              What, in Michael Sullivan's view, would this new party look like?


              One other characteristic of the Trump-Sanders phenomenon has to do with campaign finance.  Both candidates, with very different methods, have rejected the usual approach of huge donors and Super PACS.  Does this reflect voter disgust with Citizens United et al?


              Over $200 million has been spent already on losing candidates.  See Bienvenido Macario, next.


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              • What Would a US Third Party Look Like? (Michael Sullivan, USA 03/23/16 5:00 PM)
                When commenting on my post of 21 March, John E asked me what a US Third Party would look like.

                I think it would consist of the millions of strongly dissatisfied Republicans who have watched the Party do nothing but fight with Democrats for the past two election cycles, with neither party really doing the people's business, as so many things are broken or need updated policies.  Many areas have needed immediate attention for so long, like our stance and preparations against terrorism, creating meaningful jobs, a workable, productive foreign policy, the war with ISIS/US military preparedness, welfare reform, the war on cops, sadly neglected infrastructure, and immigration. The Third Party would also include the many blue-dog Democrats and Independent members who are Reagan/Trump supporters, as well as first-time voters who are looking for a home where the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and traditional American values are valued.



                In fact, every Republican I've talked with locally (I'm an Independent) indicates that they want to see the creation of a Third Party, as they've had it and are ready to dump the Republican Party. The final straw was when the Republican elites, along with the media, took on Trump to destroy him so he doesn't get the Republican nomination. The RNC had made a big deal about the requirement for all its Presidential candidates to sign a pledge to support the winner of the Primary elections. However, this seems not to be the case anymore, since Trump is the front runner and there is a serious possibility he could be the next President. Trump's participation in this primary election process has so weakened the Republican Party, the Republican establishment, its Party bosses and ranking politicians, that they are going to lose their rice bowls and what little power they now hold.


                I'd be surprised if the Republicans held on to both the Senate and the House after the November election, unless Trump is the nominee and he has coattails.



                This Primary season has taught us, "It ain't your daddy's Republican Party anymore!"


                JE comments:  I had forgotten about The Pledge.  The RNC's original goal was to prevent Trump from running independently, but if he receives the nomination, all the other candidates would be bound by the same pledge to support Trump.


                If one looks in the rear-view mirror, the Republican party seems to redefine itself about once each generation.  Consider the radical Lincoln versus, say, the ultra-conservative (mostly Ohio) Republicans of the late 19th century.  Then segue to TR, and contrast with Hoover.  Finally, in recent times, compare the Rockefeller "Limousine Republicans" to the Reaganites.  Might the Trump Era signal another disruptive moment in the Party?


                The Democrats have also changed their spots:  look no further than Johnson and the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which forever alienated the traditional Southern Democrats.


                I know:  the above is a very schematic overview.



                Or, as Michael Sullivan suggests, will the GOP wither away?


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  • Bernard-Henri Levy on Trump (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 03/15/16 4:45 AM)
    More attacks on Trump will bring more Trump triumphs, especially if the attacks are coming from a character like Bernard-Henri Lévy.

    If the language of Trump is not politically correct, Bernard-Henri Lévy is disgusting.


    The recent violent attacks against Trump remind me of the methods of the Marxist-Leninist-Anarchist Italian Centri Sociali. Where is the freedom of speech? Even if Trump is saying BS, he cannot be silenced with violence.


    Anyway, I still hope that the next President of the USA will be Bernie Sanders.


    JE comments: Did Lévy advocate any violence against Trump? That was not my understanding of the essay.  I do agree with Eugenio Battaglia on his first point:  (verbal) attacks from a smug, millionaire French intellectual will increase Trump's support among "real" Americans by a point or two.  Granted, none of them will read the essay in the first place.

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  • The World According to Trump: Bernard-Henri Levy (Robert Gibbs, USA 03/22/16 3:56 AM)
    I apologize to WAIS for the delay in responding to Paul Levine's and others' remarks regarding the Trump run for the presidency, especially the Bernard-Henri Lévy article and comments that followed. Regarding that article:

    Really?


    This piece from BHL is the best of French intellect and philosophy? In my experience I have really come to expect more than a sophomoric, coffee-house diatribe from some college editor crying for more safe spaces or a Saturday Night Live skit. Forget any substance. Where is the philosophy--French philosophy--I was raised to respect? Why not just have Bernard-Henri stick his tongue out at Trump and flip him off? Trump-bad-I-do-not-like-you; again I say: Really? There is absolutely no substance to his article; just that I don't like Trump. The other stuff comparing him to Berlusconi, Putin, and the Le Pens is just ignorant and as childish and laughable as the Hitler and Mussolini comparisons.


    Cameron Sawyer's take (15 March) on the comparisons seen quite on the mark to me, except I fail to see Trump as a "clown" poking and prodding at the "ugliest sentiments of the most brutal elements of society." I would suggest that this belief, which was prevalent initially by the media and establishment, is the reason he has so far been so successful. Never underestimate your opponent. Then there is José Ignacio Soler's diatribe that Trump only seems to appeal to "collective emotions... racism... sectarianism [and is] a great attraction to the many diverse uneducated sectors of the population." José Ignacio, I hate to tell you this, but the main core of Trump's support comes not from the uneducated--that would be Bernie Sanders--but the middle classes, professional people, small business owners, blue collar workers (many of the same as Bernie's followers). They are not racist; they are tired of being called racist. They are hard-working people who watched as both political parties wasted and spent their faith and blood along with their money. Trump and Sanders are the outside, "cannot be worse than what we have now" candidates.


    Condescension and dismissive attitudes are the reason for the rise of Trump--the so-called intellectual snide remarks regarding the religious, blue-collar workers, citizens outside the New York/Boston/LA/San Francisco/Seattle brackets as tardy "flyover people." Trump speaks to them--in their language--not politically correct, not even correct in polite company. And they do not care, because he "speaks to them"--not at them.


    Somewhere in Hell there must be a snowball, as I agree for the most part with Eugenio Battaglia's observations regarding Trump and the BHL article. I do not see violence in it, just shallow political humor and condescension. However, John E's observation regarding the article's effect is I believe correct in both instances. I did hear "who cares what a sissy, cheese-eating surrender monkey" thinks. This from a PhD in engineering (retired) and more.


    I would suggest that the way to stop Trump is to realize (1) that we are in a whole new world--for good or ill it is here, and aside from the 100 or so peer-reviewed PhD theses explaining it, I think it is here to stay. (2) The old rules do not apply. (3) People complain about Trump's name-calling should refrain from their own name-calling. (4) There are issues; address these. (5) Practice the freedom of speech we preach but seem to be losing.



    I do not support Trump and to me he and Sanders are one and the same: populists--not necessarily a bad thing. They both do put the lie regarding Citizens United to bed. (Gosh, I am given to understand that for a while Trump was even making money on his campaign.) Both are the product of a perceived lack of any honesty, caring or even basic competence in Washington and government at all levels--no responsibility for any action or inaction. Killing veterans waiting for treatment, killing soldiers under impossible rules of engagement, pretend attacks on ISIS (70% of our bomb loads come back unused), and on and on. It goes to every department in government.


    These are people who are looking for just a modicum of appreciation for their tax dollars and minimal competency from an entirely insular and incompetent government. They are really looking for someone with ideas which are not coming from coming from anyone in the "political establishment" (whatever that means, it was not even defined in the 1960s).


    JE comments:  It's simply untrue about Trump's support not coming from the uneducated--or are the pundits and pollsters all off the mark?  This fact is observable among the highly educated WAISitudes, where we've seen a number of "I don't back Trump, but..." postings.  It is a class and education thing.  Note too in the poll below (from February '16) that Sanders has the highest "favorable" rating among college graduates:



    http://thefederalist.com/2016/02/22/why-donald-trump-cant-win-the-white-house/



    Still, I'll agree with Bob Gibbs that if this election cycle has proven anything, it's that "politics are usual" are no longer cutting it.

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